A Chicago, Illinois judge has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate why disorderly conduct charges against Empire star Jussie Smollett were dropped.
The actor was indicted on 16 counts after it was alleged by city police officials that he had staged a hate attack on himself for publicity, claiming two masked men beat him up outside his apartment in the city and put a rope around his neck while yelling racial and homophobic slurs on 29 January (19).
Less than a month later, Jussie was charged by police with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report, but he walked free from custody on 26 March after all charges against him were dropped.
City officials have since sued the actor for the cost of the investigation into his alleged false claims, and on Friday (21Jun19), Judge Michael Toomin suggested that State’s Attorney Kim Foxx had mishandled the case by passing it to a colleague.
In his order, obtained by TMZ, Judge Toomin writes: “If reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Smollett, in the interest of justice the special prosecutor may take such action.”
He added that Foxx did not have legal authority to turn the case over to another prosecutor in her office.
Foxx has responded to the judge’s decision, stating: “I respectfully disagree with the court’s conclusion that, in the absence of any conflict, the appointment of a special prosecutor is required. As always, I remain committed to transparency, justice, and the public safety of the communities we serve.”
The drama cost Smollett his role on Empire, with the show’s creator, Lee Daniels, recently confirming the actor would be be part of the show’s sixth and final season.